Max Verstappen’s hopes of taking a stunning F1 world championship this season may have faded a little after the Turkish Grand Prix, despite taking the overall lead according to Mark Webber.
Red Bull star Verstappen took advantage of Lewis Hamilton’s 10-place grid penalty for changing an engine to finish second behind the Brit’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
With Hamilton only able to place fifth in Istanbul, it means Verstappen now leads the championship by six points heading into the final six races of the season.
Max Verstappen heads into the final six races of the F1 world championship with a six-point lead at the top of the drivers’ standings
But Mark Webber fears the Dutchman’s Red Bull car (above) may not prove quick enough given the improvements made by title rivals Mercedes
However, former Red Bull driver Webber now has concerns over Verstappen’s overall pace, after expecting him to easily see off Bottas during the Turkish Grand Prix which was run on a wet and slowly drying track.
Webber now has doubts whether Verstappen has a quick enough car to stop Mercedes in the season-run in.
The nine-time grand prix winner told the F1 Nation podcast: ‘I think that my little concerns off the back [of the race in Turkey] are: Are Red Bull giving Max the car for closing this championship out?
‘Because I think that I would have lost a lot of money for Valtteri to have the measure of Max in those conditions. I thought Verstappen would run rings around him all day long, but he couldn’t react to the speed of Valtteri.
Mercedes had a significant advantage over Red Bull in the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday, with Sergio Perez (right) having to heavily defend a charging Lewis Hamilton (left) on race day
Hamilton lost his world championship lead but will be boosted by Mercedes’ overall pace now
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 262.5 pts
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 256.5
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 177
‘It was interesting. I think in terms of performance [in both the] dry and wet, Red Bull know they need to react to the Mercedes’ pace now, with these new engines that Mercedes have put in the back of the car, or some aero, or whatever’s going on.
‘Max is really hanging in there. OK, he had a shunt in Monza, but I think [in] Russia he drove brilliantly, obviously, and that’s all he could get out of the car in Turkey as well.’
Verstappen has appeared to have had a slight edge over Hamilton for most of the season, building up a points gap as large as 33 points heading into the British Grand Prix in July.
But after a controversial collision with Hamilton at Silverstone in the opening lap which saw him retire and his title rival win, followed by another shunt with Bottas at the next race in Hungary that severely damaged his car, his lead was wiped out.
Former grand prix winner and Red Bull driver Mark Webber fears his former team may not have a quick enough car to give Verstappen a fighting chance in the title race
The following five races have seen neither build a healthy lead in what is proving to be one of the fiercest F1 title battles in the last ten years.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner claimed Mercedes have made ‘phenomenal’ gains with their engine recently, admitting that along with other teams they had ‘raised questions’ to the FIA.
‘We ask some questions which all teams do. It wasn’t just Red Bull, by the way, it was other manufacturers raising questions as well and they continue to be raised,’ Horner said.
Bottas and Hamilton were around 15 to 20km per hour faster in a straight line in Istanbul than the Honda powered Red Bull, but despite Red Bull’s concerns the team have since been told by the FIA that Mercedes’ engines are perfectly legal.